RISKS AND BENEFITS OF CO-SLEEPING

With the explosion of attachment parenting and the rise of practices like night nursing, co-sleep has become a hot topic on mommy blogs and on TV. Some new moms and dads swear by it, while others are offended by the very idea. We are sleep experts, but not baby experts, so we just did a little exploring at the surface of the issue. If you’re considering co-sleeping, make sure to learn about the benefits and risks before you make a decision. Talking with a health professional is the best way to ensure that you’re taking the right precautions and exploring co-sleeping for the right reasons. At the end of the day, your baby-and-parent sleep-space configuration is a personal decision that your family will have to make.

Why do families co-sleep?

The benefits of co-sleeping for babies and parents have been widely documented, though some long-established organizations warn against it. It’s clearly a perk to have immediate access to your child, complete awareness of his or her cries, and a shorter distance to travel when giving care through the night.

Some more benefits include:

  • More sleep for parents and babies
  • Easier breastfeeding
  • Easy access to calm and comfort your baby
  • Reduced risk of SIDS (in some variations of co-sleep)
  • A more restful night’s sleep
  • Better awareness
  • Eliminating separation anxiety

What are some co-sleeping options?

There are different ways to stay close to your child at night without actually sharing a bed. That, naturally, is called bedsharing. Co-sleeping just means sleeping in close proximity. It doesn’t imply or necessitate the removal of all barriers between sleeping individuals. Actual bedsharing carries the risk that a parent could roll onto the baby or unknowingly force them into a position that restricts breathing. For this reason, co-sleeping in the same bed is reported to increase the risk of SIDS by up to 5 times.

Co-sleeping options include:

  • Sharing the same bed
  • A sidecar crib that attaches to the mother’s side of the parents’ bed
  • Separate beds in the same room
  • Separate sleeping where an older child has the option to join the parents
  • Elaborate handmade multiple-person beds designed for sharing

Co-Sleep comes down to safety.

Safety is the key consideration in making a decision about baby co-sleep. No matter where or how your child sleeps, the elements of a safe infant sleep space are consistent. Learn the facts about co-sleep and your baby’s needs, and talk openly with your healthcare providers. Given the interest parents have expressed in co-sleeping, this is sure to be an area where the array of options will continue to grow. No matter where he or she sleeps, be sure to consider the safety of your baby’s mattress, not just the frame that holds it.

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